Trailblazer, Commodore 64

Trailblazer is a well-regarded, ball-based racing game written and designed by the prolific Shaun Southern of Mr. Chip Software and published by Gremlin Graphics in 1986.

Trailblazer did apparently originate on the Commodore 16 and was expanded to take advantage of the Commodore 64‘s extra memory, and the result is a suped-up version of the original game.

The basis is the same as before though: guide your ball to the end of each course without running out of time. You lose time by falling through holes in the course, so must avoid dropping through them.

There are various coloured sections of the track, which affect your ball in different ways. Green areas give a speed boost; blue areas force the ball to jump; red areas slow the ball down; purple areas cannot be passed through at all and will stop the ball dead (highly annoying), and white areas will put the ball into a supersonic warp mode (which moves at insane speeds). You also have a limited number of ‘manual’ jumps which can be used when needed.

The Commodore 64 version of Trailblazer is split-screen, which is great for two-player, but not so good for single-player games because the bottom half of the screen is effectively wasted. It would’ve been nice to have had a full-screen single-player option as well. That said: there is an option to play against a ‘robot’ opponent, which does utilise the second half of the screen.

Trailblazer is fast, furious, and fun to those with a willingness to persevere. It’s maybe a little too difficult for your average gamer, but is beautifully-programmed and offers a solid challenge to retro gaming pros.

More: Trailblazer on Wikipedia

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